ChemistDirect FAIL

OK, bit of a geeky entry this one, but I found it (geekily) amusing. Just ordered our anti-malarials from (as they are lots cheaper there than in a regular pharmacy). The order came through tagged as spam. Nothing strange there except it was tagged as spam by their outgoing mail server!

Here’s the evidence:

X-Spam-Flag: YES
X-Spam-Checker-Version: SpamAssassin 3.2.5 (2008-06-10) on
X-Spam-Level: *****
X-Spam-Status: Yes, score=6.0 required=4.3 tests=ALL_TRUSTED,HTML_MESSAGE,
	autolearn=no version=3.2.5
	* -1.4 ALL_TRUSTED Passed through trusted hosts only via SMTP
	*  1.7 INVALID_DATE Invalid Date: header (not RFC 2822)
	*  1.5 ONLINE_PHARMACY BODY: Online Pharmacy
	*  0.0 HTML_MESSAGE BODY: HTML included in message
	*  1.7 MIME_HTML_ONLY BODY: Message only has text/html MIME parts
	*  2.6 INVALID_MSGID Message-Id is not valid, according to RFC 2822

(Bold added)
This for the non-geeks amongst my readers, means that one of ChemistDirect’s own computers tagged this as spam before it even left them. By these measures pretty much all of their mail must get tagged as spam because ALL online pharmacies are dodgy and even ChemistDirect admit that!

Panasonic TZ7 First impressions

It’s always worth writing these things down in case they’re useful for someone, somewhere… I just took delivery of a Panasonic TZ7 which we’re going to be taking on our travels with us. Here’s a bunch of thoughts / reactions etc…

  • It feels very like the TZ5 / TZ3 that I’ve played with that friends have. It feels solid, but not too heavy. The charger for the battery is very lightweight, which is good for our rucksacks!
  • Basic shooting seems dead simple, but it’s a horrid dreary day here, so I haven’t really tested it well.
  • It came with firmware version 1.2, which means it will only take original Panasonic batteries (cheapest I’ve seen them is £35 a piece) not third party ones (anywhere from about £8 each). At the moment I’ve decided not to downgrade to 1.1, but I may yet be convinced into saving myself about £50 on getting 2 new batteries for it. It just feels scary running the risk of bricking a brand new camera!
  • Having just come from a Canon, I already miss the ability to tune the shutter speed. However I don’t think I used that much in practice and will just need to get used to the scenes / exposure settings etc…
  • I knew it had face detection, but it also has face recognition – in other words it can recognise pre-registered people in photos and tag the photos with their name 🙂 It even spots them when you’re framing a photo, labels them with the names you’ve put in and makes sure they’re the most in-focus faces!
  • I hadn’t realised this, but video recording on this version is limited to 15min bursts regardless of the size of memory card (I believe this is down to some form of import tax avoidance). Not a big deal for me as I pretty much just want it for photos, not video.
  • The tripod attachment point is in the middle – YAY! On our old Canon it was right at one side which made it virtually impossible to use with our GorillaPod mini tripod. Am sure this will work better, but will have to check tonight.

Anyway, it’s actually slightly worse than my expectations, but then perhaps they were just too high in the first place!

This is from fiddling with it for about an hour… I’ll hopefully post some more updates on here about my experiences if I can be bothered 🙂 Might even include some pictures too! Bet you can’t wait!

UPDATE: Some pictures

Here‘s my first batch of photos with the camera… here’s a teaser:

Holkham Beach

Spam spam spam spam

I’ve been collecting spam sent to my various email addresses for just over 5 years now (since 1/1/2004). I thought it was about time I shared the statistics with the world!

Year Spam count Spam per day Total spam size Avg spam size
2004 11,623 32 53M 4.6kB
2005 8,642 24 75M 8.7kB
2006 7,771 21 60M 7.7kB
2007 21,291 58 161MB 7.6kB
2008 62,268 170 455MB 7.3kB
2009 to date 1,850 119 13MB 7.0kB

So spam size hasn’t changed much since 2005, but the quantity triples annually from 2006 to 2008, but the rate is down in 2009 so far. Either way: guess there’s no stopping the spam machine!

You can see a sort-of-up-to-date count here:

Ubuntu + Windows @ work

After playing around with Ubuntu as per my previous post, I stumbled upon synergy and have had a revelation! It allows you to share your mouse and keyboard from one computer with another (in my case my work desktop and laptop). It’s not like the hard switches you can get because you just move your mouse across from one screen to the other. It’s not like just having a second monitor because you can run it on different operating systems AND you get the processing power of both machines (although not shared between them). So I’m running Ubuntu* on my laptop and Windows on my desktop and even though my Windows machine takes 15 mins to boot up, I can use its keyboard and mouse to control my laptop as it does so.

Pure awesomness 🙂

* – BTW you have to run synergy as root on the Ubuntu 8.04 because of this bug in the kernel setup.

P.S. This is my 400th post on my blog… I know that’s not reflected in the number in the URL, but I guess I deleted a few along the way. Woo! I should look though, I reckon only 10 were in the last 2 years or something 🙂

[Update: By the way, when the IT director found out I was running Linux, he insisted I take it off entirely, so I’m now back to Windows + Windows. He said it was an “unwarranted security breach”… which I didn’t quite understand, but I’m not really in a position to argue.]

Ubuntu vs Windows @ work

OK, I finally got fed up of the crappiness of Windows and how slowly it runs on our, rather old, work computers. So I decided to install Ubuntu Hoary 8.04 (after first trying the live CD) on my laptop as a dual boot… and here is what happened.

  • The install was very smooth from the CD
  • Once installed, my first challenge was to see if I could somehow access out Microsoft Exchange 2007 server. I’d read a fair bit about it before I did the install, and had concluded that the best option was probably to get IEs4linux and access it over the web (makes a simple install of IE 5, 5.5, 6 and/or 7.0 under wine, although the 7.0 didn’t work for me). This failed a couple of times whilst installing, but did eventually work as I played randomly with some options. Once installed, I could run 6.0 and access OWA which seemed to work just fine, apart from CPU-hogging, which made my laptop fan whir permanently… far from a perfect solution! (I followed this guide by the way)
    [Note: evolution-exchange should support Exchange 2007 soon, but it seemed to complex for me, see here]
  • I also tried VMWare Server to see if I could get it to boot up a copy of XP that is on the laptop too, but it wouldn’t build the kernel module 🙁 (I was following this guide, but to no avail, even with the patch)
  • Accessing network shares seems a bit weird as you can select to connect to a Windows server from the Places menu, but then it says there’s no handler for smb://. Then it still makes a link on the desktop to it, which, when you click on it, duplicates and works just fine. I unmount one of them and am happy. Also I did mount some using smbmnt as I’ve used this before and appears to work somewhat more predictably…
  • Printing was pretty simple, but still not for the faint hearted. Had to go into add printer, Windows printer, type the full server & printer name in (none of the 3 I use were auto-detected although others were). I also had to enter my username & password for each one. 2 printers were in the database already installed and fortunately Xerox provide a load of ppd files including one for the final one. All seem to print nicely.
  • I managed to do my ssh tunnelling like I had with PuTTY (ssh -p 443 -L 9898:localhost:9898 – maps my local port 9898 to the remote server 9898 over ssh on port 443 to fool the MS ISA Proxy – I WIN! FYI port 9898 on the server is running tinyproxy so I can get around web filtering of facebook!.)

Amongst it all I had 3 weird crashes:

  • On the Live CD it hard locked (no response to SysRq or anything) – I have this periodically in Windows too, so probably something wrong in hardware somewhere.
  • I left the computer for a while and when I came back it wouldn’t turn the screen back on and the hard disk was churning. I waited a few mins, then tried SysRq to killall and unmount and sync… and then reboot which it did. Somehow that feels better than just pulling the power.
  • Programs stopped opening one time after I’d been using IEs4Linux, which could be down to the fact that they were resource hogging, but I actually ended up rebooting as I couldn’t even open a terminal to kill it!

That’s all so far I think, I may update with more things I do or remember I did! You never know, this might be helpful to someone someday…